JP Park in Delhi will be venue for govt-Hazare showdown

JP Park in Delhi will be venue for govt-Hazare showdown

On a day when both sides hardened their respective stand, Hazare gave a call for a nationwide “go to jail agitation” in support of the anti-corruption watchdog, the police imposed Section 144 at the JP Park here prohibiting assembly of people.

Denouncing the police move, Hazare and his supporters declared they would march to the park and start their fast from 10 am on Tuesday. The Gandhian activist, who made a surprise visit to Rajghat, declared his resolve to launch his fast at the park. Hazare said he would continue his fast in jail if police arrest him. “If they release me, I will again come back to the park to hold fast. This will be repeated.”

Hours after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in his address to the nation that the Lokpal bill was before Parliament, that everyone should wait for it and that ‘corruption cannot be eradicated through holding of fasts’, Hazare, in his ‘parallel address to the nation’, appealed the people to get arrested if the police take him away on Tuesday.

The Delhi police on Monday denied permission to Anna Hazare to sit on fast at the venue after Team Anna’s refusal to accept restrictions like limiting number of days of fast to three days and  number of protesters to 5,000. The denial came soon after the team submitted an undertaking to comply with only 16 of 22 conditions laid by the police.

The civil society fast plan gained support not just from the right-wing RSS and BJP, but also the Leftist CPM whose leader Brinda Karat said the right to protest cannot be questioned.

“The point here is one may not agree with the form of protest or with all the demands being raised by Hazare. However, his right to protest cannot be questioned. Saying once a bill is in Parliament there can be no protest in this country is highly undemocratic,” she said.

Ban justified

The government, however, justified the police action saying law of the land was equal for all and even political parties have to take permission for holding agitations.

“I do not want to say any harsh thing against anybody. The law of the land is equal for all. Be it the Congress, any other political party or any citizen, we all have to take the permission of the law and order machinery to carry out any protest or march,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters here.

Replying to questions on Anna team’s contention that its right to protest cannot be taken away, Soni said everybody has got a right to protest but permission has to be sought keeping in mind law and order and other factors. Soni dismissed allegation of civil rights activist Arvind Kejriwal that the police set the conditions on them at the behest of politicians saying any person making such allegation is “deliberately trying to mislead.”

Asked whether they would approach court against the Delhi Police action, Kejriwal said: “All options are open and there is an option to go to court.”

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